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The open floor plan has the master bedroom on one side of the house and the two other bedrooms and bathroom on the other.
Where’s the savvy, forward-thinking developer looking for a most beautiful and temperate spot on the planet to create the prototype for a more sustainable development? Consider this good development.
It’s more work, but for those who prioritize this lifestyle and appreciate the benefits, it’s a labor of love.
If you are interested in this property, or other off-grid South Kona properties, contact me.
I’m usually not the jealous type, but I honestly envy people live completely off the grid.
The Big Sur PreFab house, designed by Jennifer Siegel and Office of Mobile Design, is high up in hundreds of acres of California mountain wilderness and is designed to be connected to the landscape.
The folded metal roofline is designed to enhance the productivity of the home’s 20 solar photovoltaic panels and two solar thermal panels.
The first floor has a beautiful, open floor plan, with an emphasis on uniting the living, kitchen and dining spaces with the outdoor patio and garden.
When I graduated from high school, I was super burned out on the educational system but also lacking direction and inspiration. I didn’t know it at the time, but the decision to take that job was a majorly life-altering event. While I was working at GTF, I also went back to school, first Linn-Benton Community College and later Oregon State University. I thought I was doing pretty well for myself by managing (without any financial help from my parents) to graduate from college debt-free and with a few thousand dollars in the bank.
The lack of electricity (or lack of house more broadly) factored into his purchasing decision a few different ways.
There were (and still are) six separate buildable lots at the end of the road that don’t have access to power.
Last summer, we finally got an official bid for running power from last transformer to our property line (about a half mile). When Henry bought this place, he was fairly certain that the owners of the other five lots without power (two of which went up for sale around the same time as our place) were pretty unlikely to pay to bring in power and start building regular houses right away, so he felt like he had some time to basically do whatever crazy project he wanted to do out here without bugging any neighbors. Henry purchased the first and second properties solely with his personal savings that he’d earned by working since he was 12.
Living with small children in a small house with zero privacy is actually fine, arguably ideal.
We have to drive to get anywhere, and biking for recreation or travel is pretty much out of the question because we live at the end of a gravel road on this crazy steep hill. Living way out of town in a non-standard, hard-to-figure-out house, owning a bunch of animals, and growing plants that need to stay above freezing in the winter and wet in the summer means that we rarely leave town, at least not as a whole family.
We are not connected to the electrical grid, but we are still consumers of fossil fuel-based energy. What we’re doing here cannot and should not be a taken as a complete model for how to live this life. I found your blog a few months ago via instagram and have been reading in awe (and admiration) ever since. What a fun read this was–thank-you Camille maybe (in your spare time) you could share some recipes for cooking on the BBQ. Yeah, it’s not easy and definitely not picturesque (at least not all the time), but thanks for your kind words.
Camille, this was very insightful, although I am inclined to think that you are being overly modest about your skills. Another thought: your three pieces of advice for folks who want to know how to get started, well, it seems like good advice for everyone, not just those who want to live off-grid. I thought I was giving out advice for aspiring homesteaders, but since you pointed it out, I guess it is pretty sound advice for pretty much everyone. We’ve already done the solar but being in Aus maybe things work a bit different (not the science of it, but the $ lol).
I guess my point about solar panels is just that there are many ways to lessen your household consumption of energy. I recently found your blog via Facebook (Henry and I actually went to school together and I’ve always admired the beautiful pictures he posts of your family and your farm) and I have become one of your many fans. I have been reading your lovely blog for a few months and have been wondering how you and your family got yourselves so nicely set-up in the forest.
Yes, our children did not participate in our back to basics lifestyle and had a hard time rectifying their reality with fellow students. Thank you for sharing your reality, it restores our belief that future generations remember how to simply live and live well.
I’ve been looking forward to this post since you mentioned it was in the making, and I saved it to read until this morning when I could settle in with coffee and really take the time to savor it. I’ll probably never live off-grid or be as self-sufficient as your family, but I appreciate the window into a bit of your lifestyle that this blog so beautifully and realistically provides.
As someone who also lives off-grid and has been asked many of the same questions, it is fun to see the overlaps in our experiences. You do a great job with your pictures illustrating the wonderful art of bee-keeping and natural living.
I am happy that our somewhat-unusual lifestyle tends to inspire people, but like you I am uncomfortable with the envy-laced remarks that some people make (“Oh you guys bought that beautiful old farm that everyone wanted but no-one could afford??
So, kindred-spirit, I don’t know what else to say except thank you again for this post. I have family on a large farm so I have spent a lot of time there and learned some of the hard work that is required to operate it. I so look forward to checking in on the blog for updates and am appreciative for all that you have shared. Hello, I have been following you on instagram as i bake on a bbq too, we live on 300 sharec acres and you learn a lot. I am aspiring to do something similar with my life, but I have a fair amount of debt (student loans).
The great room has high ceilings and a wall of sliders, which open to the huge lanai, the length of the home. Situated at the top of the property, the smaller two bedroom, one bath home is connected to electricity and County water.
Considering the typically temperate and sunny weather, it’s hard to believe that this is one of the very few off-grid homes for sale in South Kona.
What would it look like, living off the land, producing your own energy, growing your food, and catching your water? Imagine “development that supports a sustainable community.” Statistics are hard to find, but trends suggest that the number of people who are shifting their consciousness towards being more self-reliant and more self-responsible is increasing. As well as, satisfaction to be derived from doing something positive to reduce our carbon footprint and decrease our dependence on the fossil fuels that pollute the environment. She works well with other Realtors to accomplish your desired goals including negotiating for the best price. Not to mention it’s gorgeous!The home is designed to provide not only shelter, but water, food and energy through an ingenious combination of water catchment, storage, and usage, along with efficient use of solar and wind power systems.


I’m sure this kind of lifestyle comes with its own challenges, but it must be nice to never receive utility bills or have to worry about outages.
I remember occasionally wrapping cinnamon rolls late on a Friday night before market, and my brother mowed the lawn every once in a while, but really, we were not into it. I wrote about my experiences working at GTF here, but somehow I left out the fact that GTF was where I met and fell for Henry.
I paid for community college classes out of pocket, and they were absolutely worth every penny. By the time Henry turned 22 and graduated from college, however, he had gotten his own farrier business up and running pretty much full time and saved enough money to put a down payment on nine acres of property. At first, the idea of living in a cabin in the woods seemed quaint, but it didn’t take long for me to see how hard it was going to be and how ill-prepared I was.
He was looking for property that was relatively close to his parents (who lived in Corvallis) and within the service area of his farrier business. No bank would ever lend on a property like this, so any buyer would have to either pay cash outright or make a big down payment and have the seller carry the loan. The third and fourth properties were bought with a combination of about 60% savings and 40% money that our very generous grandparents had put away to pay for our college educations (which we never used because we both went to a relatively inexpensive college on full scholarships). Henry, his dad, and his brother built the original 200 square foot cabin as quickly as possible so that Henry could start living out here within a few months of buying the property. I honestly cannot imagine living in a big house with little kids or cannot imagine it being any better than what we have. When I first moved out here, I had a naive notion that because I had a life partner, I didn’t to try that hard to maintain relationships with my friends. I love our propane stovetop (2-burner KitchenAid), propane on-demand hot water heater, and propane fridge. Henry’s brother is usually willing to house sit for us, but even someone as familiar with our place as he is will never be able to do things *just right*.
In theory, this should motivate me to keep things exceptionally clean and organized, but in reality, it means that our house often looks like a wreak. A place where I could flip a switch on the wall and instantly have bright lights illuminating a whole room. He found a trade (horseshoing) that was in demand in a rural community and figured out how to do it well enough and efficiently enough to earn a decent living (more details here).
While there are actual stores that sell repurposed materials (like the Habitat for Humanity stores in Corvallis and Portland), most of what we’ve gotten over the years has come from individual friends, clients, and weird three-way bartering deals (made possible by the fact that Henry knows and is respected by so many people in our community). There are hundreds of less glamorous ways to live more sustainably, starting with investing in insulation.
You are also welcome to leave questions in the comments below, and I will make an effort to answer them. There are so many blogs out there that make this sound so easy, make it look so picturesque.
You write, take photos, do woodworking and run a successful online business, plus raise two kids, keep a home, keep goats, etc., etc. I discovered your blog a month or so ago, and I have loved sharing all of your posts and archives, especially from the perspective of a Portlander who is newly commuting to visit a loved one in the Corvallis area. Living off-grid is akin to living and traveling on a sailboat, which we did for four years with our infants. It inspires me to do what I can in my own life to live more sustainably and closer to my ideals. There might be more work in this lifestyle (being in Alaska adds another unique layer of challenges), but it is also incredibly rewarding.
Especially the no-electricity part, and the reality that even a simple lifestyle still relies to some extent on fossil fuels.
Maintenance alone could be very costly regarding mechanical nessesities to live off grid if you can’t build, fix, and maintain them yourself. Located just north of Kona Paradise, this rolling strip of land runs from the highway down to the coast. The home is also designed to be energy efficient in that is stores thermal energy naturally, storing heat during the day, and releasing it at night to keep the home warm at night, and cool during the day. Add to that the fact that this home is gorgeous and at one with the surrounding landscape in Big Sur, CA, and jealous is an understatement.
Green Your Decor was borne of my frustration with finding beautiful things that were also eco-friendly, and inspiration to reduce my own carbon footprint and help others do the same.
My dad was (and still is) in the timber industry, mostly planting trees (in the nastiest winter weather on Oregon’s nastiest steep terrain), surveying tree plantations (through the gnarliest poison oak and densest blackberry thickets), and landscaping around the company office.
We both, however, did learn to eat a lot of vegetables, and we saw a pretty good model of a family living frugally without feeling deprived. I heard about a job opening at Gathering Together Farm and started doing one farmers’ market a week for them.
In the five seasons that I worked there, I somehow got over  the idea of needing to leave town and strike out on my own. When I transfered to OSU, I had mostly merit-based scholarships that covered my full tuition plus some. Credit for the 14-week program applied toward his degree at OSU, so he managed to graduate two terms early while working 20-80 hours a week through his college years. I had given up any grandios visions of living the high life in the big city years earlier, but this homestead thing was always Henry’s dream not mine.
Sometimes a seller will pay for power to increase a property’s selling price, sometimes a buyer or owner (typically of the land closest to the last lots with power) will buy in, or often a group of owners will split the cost between several parties.
As of right now, most of our combined wealth is tied up in our property, and our bank accounts are at uncomfortably low levels. That was a decent plan at the time, but after I moved in, it became clear that we would need to both upgrade and expand.
I do try to tidy up regularly, but it seems like just being in the house with two kids, a dog, and a cat creates chaos.
In addition to being from this community (with a dad who is respected here as well), Henry met dozens (hundreds?) of rural folks through work and just driving around the boonies, stopping in at tiny country stores, knocking on doors, and generally bs-ing with anyone willing to talk (including gas station attendants).
For me when I look at a blog like this, this is what I want to see – the reality of it, not just pretty pictures (although I do enjoy your pretty pictures as well). Solar panels can be helpful, but there are lower-tech solutions (insulation) that potentially have a greater impact on overall energy consumption.
When we first moved abroad with our kids we had many people (including family), ask questions similar to those you posted. Once we finish school we would love to move somewhere with water to raise more food and animals than our arid, urban homestead allows (although the desert is a beautiful place where you can grown awesome winter gardens and citrus!).
They absolutely adored having their parents 100 percent of the time and learned innumerable lifelong lessons daily.
It was amazing…) And maybe most importantly, we both have husbands who are KUNG-FOO-FIGHTERS when it comes to figuring shit out, getting shit done, and being awesome at all the shit. You are a very well grounded individual and I respect your realist view of off grid living. It really helps to here a healthy dose of the truth, and not just the romanticized version.


Tanya’s enthusiasm and problem-solving skills will keep the process moving forward to a successful close. I feel awkward and uncomfortable about representing a lifestyle that may or may not be worth aspiring to. My mom was (and still is) a baker who, in the days when the Corvallis area really had no source of decent fresh bread, produced nearly 200 loaves of bread plus dozens of cookies, bars, and cinnamon rolls every week in a bakery room in my childhood home (where my parents still live). I figured out that I could be a strong, independent person (woman) without ditching my parents and small-town roots.
My education at OSU was mediocre at best including only a handful of classes that were really challenging and worthwhile. He visited several bare lots and a few run-down houses, but none seemed to have much potential.
Henry and I agree that it makes a lot more sense to invest thousands (10s of thousands?) of dollars into our own energy infrastructure that we own and could theoretically get some money for if we ever abandoned this place. We got a toilet, a bigger kitchen sink, and water pipes that didn’t break when it froze. Our lack of space has been the best excuse for dissuading well-meaning friends and family from buying my kids a lot of gifts. I despise our washing machine that cost us an arm and a leg (one of my worst purchasing decisions to date). On the flip side, I watched him milk my goat a couple times in the days after Charlotte was born, and the way he did it was so irritating that I’ve pretty much banned him from that chore ever since. Solar panels power our lights, radio, and very small appliances during most of the year, but we still use a gas generator to run our water pump and washing machine. When friends or family are coming over, I have to actually pick everything up and put it in its proper place because I don’t have the option of stuffing it in a closet or shutting the bedroom door to hide the mess.
I lived in Corvallis for almost four years while I was going to college, and I had these experiences, and you know what? I not thrilled that I’m presenting myself here as less skilled, less personable, or less motivated than my husband because it sounds so anti-feminist.
We make mistakes (sometimes expensive ones) all the time and have plenty of regrets about how we could have or should have done things differently.
I think (and I hope) there are a lot of people in our community and beyond that live in a self-sufficient reality. There are better examples online where people that are dead broke and lack family support can still find ways to get off the grid and work hard without using corporate entities to survive. Maybe some of this has come from your lifestyle and I hope your children also benefit from your efforts to survive and progress. That seems like adequate living space for a family, although the home does only have 2 bedrooms.
This post is an attempt (at least a start) to answer some of your unanswerable questions and give it to you straight–how it really is (as my friend Lynn once wrote about much more eloquently than me).
When I was really little, we didn’t have a TV, but later we got one that would only get static-y reception for one channel plus movies and eventually Nintendo games, too.
I gained a newfound respect for the things my parents had been doing all along for me and for themselves. After I got pregnant, we added a second room to the cabin, built the goat barn, and put up the big greenhouse. And the rare case when the generator will malfunction and leave me wet, soapy, naked, and without water to rinse off in, but that really doesn’t happen often. We (mostly I) agonize over each new big purchase, and we (mostly Henry) have to do a ton of research to see what will work best (or at all) in our situation. It’s just not fair or even possible to ask someone else to step into this complicated system, so we end up doing it ourselves, which limits what we are able to do away from home. I kinda like that lifestyle, but for the most part, I like living out here in the boonies, too, even if it’s not all sunshine and roses. I do know (and he agrees with me), however, that if I weren’t here, this place would be an organizational disaster, and my husband would be living on sardines, mandarin oranges, and beer. Living the good life takes either more time or more money, and we’ve chosen to invest quite a bit of both, but you might have more of one or the other to spare, and that changes the equation entirely. Anyway, I’m not sure how practical it would be for a family to live way out in the wilderness. While I didn’t learn to be a farmer, I did learn how to work my ass off, which is, ultimately, THE most important life skill (or at least one of the big ones). Looking back, I wish I would have taken horticulture, soil science, business, computer science, and art classes, but I didn’t.
He started at GTF when he was 16 and (by choice) would regularly work 12 or 13 hour days all summer. With the help of his dad and brother (who both had a lot of construction experience), he built a one-room bachelor’s cabin on his new land and began scheming about all the things he could make of this place. That means that either I have to make an effort to go to town on a regular basis, or I have to convince folks to drive all the way out here to visit.
Because we have such obscure appliances, there aren’t any local professionals willing to work on them when they break (which they inevitably do). We are not independent from the world, and that’s not something we can realistically aspire to. But then I remember all the shit I rock at, like making really good dinners every night, and I realize that he needs me just as much as I need him. I would though like to have means of back up resources in case of foul weather or whatever happens here in the north woods of Wisconsin. It was also covered in old-growth poison oak, and the terrain was exceptionally steep with fine clay plus cobbles for soil (Ritner, an Entisol).
Every year, we build something new or make major improvements to the place, often with the help of Henry’s brother or a couple of very capable friends. I have to admit that feeling like I’m part of a community online, has greatly lessened my feelings of isolation. Fortunately, Henry’s 84-year-old grandpa is a genius and can generally diagnose and fix most of our machine problems. This post is also a bit raw because after I got the words out of my head and onto the page, I wasn’t  that motivated to do a ton of drafting and revising.
Facebook, Etsy, Instagram, and this blog connect me (sometimes too much) to the wider world, and I am so thankful to have those resources. At 15 Square meters and completely off-grid, Brett Sutherland has constructed a true, tiny house treasure.
I started repairs from a wheelchair but now I’m able to stand and walk somewhat ok again more improvements are being done all the time. Packed with unique, space saving design elements, Brett has created a fantastic space to both live and work. Perhaps best of all, this was all achieved on a budget of NZ$21,000.
If and when you’ve done everything else, and you still have money in your pocket, go ahead and buy a couple of solar panels.



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